About anchored objects

Anchored objects are items, such as images or text boxes, that are attached—or anchored—to specific text. The anchored object travels with the text containing the anchor as the text reflows. Use anchored objects for all objects that you want associated with a particular line or block of text, for example, sidebars and callouts, figures, or icons associated with a specific word.

You can create an anchored object by pasting or placing an object (or frame) into text using the Type tool or by using the Insert Anchored Object command. When you place the object, Adobe InDesign CS4 adds an anchor marker at the insertion point. Anchored objects inherit the rotation and skew attributes of the text frame they’re anchored to—even when the object is positioned outside of the text frame. You can select the object and change these attributes.

You can create anchored objects that use any of the following positions:

Inline

Aligns the anchored object with the baseline of the insertion point. You can adjust the Y Offset to position the object above or below the baseline. This is the default type of anchored object. In earlier versions of InDesign, these objects were called inline graphics.

Above Line

Places the anchored object above the line with the following choices of alignment: Left, Center, Right, Towards Spine, Away From Spine, and (Text Alignment). Text Alignment is the alignment applied to the paragraph that holds the anchor marker.

Custom

Places the anchored object in the position that you define in the Anchored Object Options dialog box. You can position the object anywhere inside or outside the text frame.

Note:

You can use inline and above line positioned objects with type on a path. (See Add anchored objects to type on a path.)

Sample document with anchored objects
Sample document with anchored objects

A. Inline position B. Above line position (aligned left) C. Custom position (aligned to the edge of the text frame) 

Tim Cole provided a shortcut on inserting anchored frames at Anchored Frames Productivity Shortcut.

Create an anchored object

If an object isn’t available to place into the document (for example, sidebar text that is not written yet), you can create an empty anchored frame as a placeholder for content you can add later. You can resize the anchored frame at any time and the position settings for the frame update automatically.

  1. Do one of the following:
    • To add an anchored object, use the Type tool to position an insertion point where you want the object’s anchor to appear, and then place or paste the object.

    Note:

    If the frame for the object is taller than the line of text in which it appears, text might overlap the imported image or you might see increased space above the line. Consider selecting a different anchored object position, inserting a soft or hard line break, resizing the inline object, or specifying a different leading value for the surrounding lines.

    • To anchor an existing object, select it and choose Edit > Cut. Then, using the Type tool, position the insertion point where you want the object to appear, and choose Edit >Paste. By default, the anchored object’s position is inline.

    • To add a placeholder frame for an object that isn’t available (for example, text you have yet to write for a sidebar), use the Type tool to position the insertion point where you want the object’s anchor to appear; then choose Object > Anchored Object > Insert.

    Note:

    You can anchor text characters by creating outlines of the text. Creating outlines automatically converts each character of text to an inline anchored object.  

  2. To position the object, select it with a selection tool and choose Object > Anchored Object > Options. Specify options as desired.

Note:

To bypass the Anchored Object dialog box, use the Insert Anchored Object/Go To Anchor Marker keyboard shortcut. You’ll need to designate keys for this shortcut in the Keyboard Shortcut Editor (it’s listed in the Text and Tables area). Pressing the shortcut twice deselects the object and positions the cursor back in the main text. (See Use keyboard shortcut sets.)

Inserted Anchored Objects options

When you insert a placeholder for an anchored object, you can specify the following options for the contents:

Content

Specifies the type of object the placeholder frame will contain.

Note:

If you choose Text, an insertion point appears in the text frame; if you choose Graphic or Unassigned, InDesign selects the object frame.

Object Style

Specifies the style you want to use to format the object. If you have defined and saved object styles, they will appear in this menu.

Paragraph Style

Specifies the paragraph style you want to use to format the object. If you have defined and saved paragraph styles, they will appear in this menu.

Note:

If the object style has a paragraph style enabled and you choose a different style from the Paragraph Style menu, or if you make changes to the Anchored Position options for a style, a plus sign (+) appears in the Object Style menu indicating that overrides have been made.

Height and Width

Specify the dimensions of the placeholder frame.

Inline and Above Line position options

When you choose Inline or Above Line from the Position menu in the Anchored Object Options dialog box, the following options are available for setting the position of the anchored object. (You can also access these options in the Insert Anchored Object dialog box.)

Inline

Aligns the bottom of the anchored object to the baseline. Inline objects are subject to certain constraints when moving along the y axis: the top of the object can’t go below the bottom leading slug and the bottom of the object can’t go above the top of the leading slug.

Y Offset

Adjusts the position on the baseline. You can also use the mouse to drag the object vertically on the page.

Above Line

Aligns the object above the text line containing the anchor marker and below the line of text above the anchor marker.

Alignment

Choose from the following options:

Left, Right, and Center

Align the object within the text column. These options ignore indent values applied to the paragraph and align the object within the entire column.

Towards Spine and Away From Spine

Align the object left or right depending on the side of the spread the object is on. These options ignore indent values applied to the paragraph and align the object within the entire column.

(Text Alignment)

Aligns the object based on the alignment defined by the paragraph. This option uses the paragraph indent values when aligning the object.

Space Before

Specifies the position of the object relative to the bottom of the leading slug in the preceding line of text. Positive values lower both the object and the text below it. Negative values move the text below the object up toward the object. The maximum negative value is the height of the object.

Space After

Specifies the position of the object relative to the cap-height of the first character in the line below the object. A value of 0 aligns the bottom of the object to the cap-height position. Positive values move the text below the object down (away from the bottom of the object). Negative values move the text below the object up (toward the object).

Space Before and Space After options
Using the Space Before and Space After options

A. A Space Before value of 0P10 moves the object and it’s associated text further away from the text line above it. B. A Space After value of 0p10 moves the object and the text line above it further away from its associated text line (below). 

Note:

Anchored objects set to Above Line will always remain with the line that holds the anchor; the text won’t compose such that the object is on the bottom of one page and the anchor marker’s line is at the top of the next page.

Custom position options

You can use the following options when positioning a custom-positioned anchored object. You can specify these options in the Insert Anchored Object dialog box or the Anchored Object Options dialog box. For step‑by‑step instructions for using these options, see Position a custom-positioned anchored object.

Relative To Spine

Specifies whether the object aligns relative to the document spine. When you select this option, the Anchored Object Reference Point proxy displays as a two page spread. The two pages mirror each other. When selected, objects positioned on one side of a spread, for instance the outside margin, remain on the outside margin even when the text reflows to a facing page.

Relative To Spine option
Using the Relative To Spine option

A. Relative To Spine not selected: the object remains on the left side of the text frame when text reflows across to the right side of the spread. B. Relative To Spine selected: the object remains on the outside edge of the page when the text reflows to the right side of the spread. 

Note:

If, after you select Relative To Spine you adjust the X Offset value, the direction the object moves may change. This change occurs because the direction of movement depends partly on the side of the spread the object is on.

Anchored Object Reference Point 

Specifies the location on the object that you want to align to the location on the page (as specified by the Anchored Position Reference Point). For example, if you want to align the right side of the object with a page item, such as a text frame, click a rightmost point on this proxy. For more information on using this reference point, see Position a custom-positioned anchored object.

Anchored Position Reference Point 

Specifies the location on the page (as defined by the X and Y Relative To options), to which you want to align the object. For example, if you choose Text Frame for X Relative To and Line (Baseline) for Y Relative To, this proxy represents the horizontal area of the text frame and the vertical area of the text line containing the object’s anchor marker. If you click the leftmost point on this proxy, the object’s reference point  will align with the left edge of the text frame and the baseline of the text.

Right side of object aligned with left side of text frame
Right side of object aligned with left side of text frame

Note:

Depending on what you choose for X Relative To and Y Relative To, the Anchored Position Reference Point proxy displays either three or nine positions. Line options, such as Line (Baseline) provide only three options—middle left, center, and middle right—because the vertical positioning is established by the anchor marker in the text.

X Relative To

Specifies what you want to use as the basis for horizontal alignment. For instance, Text Frame lets you align the object to the left, center, or right side of the text frame. Where exactly it aligns horizontally depends on the reference points you choose and any offset you specify for X Offset.

For example, if you want the object to appear in the page margin with its right edge flush with the page margin, choose Page Margin for X Relative To and specify a rightmost point on the Anchored Object Reference Point proxy and a leftmost point for the Anchored Position Reference Point proxy.

X Relative To option
The X Relative To option

A. Aligning the right side of the object to the left side of the text frame  B. Aligning the right side of the object to the left side of the page margin

X Offset

Moves the object left or right. Whether it moves to the left or right depends on the reference point. If aligning to the center of the page item, positive values move the object to the right. The direction of movement also depends on whether you’ve selected Relative To Spine.

Y Relative To

Specifies what the object aligns with vertically. For example, Page Edge lets you use the edge of the page as the basis for aligning the object to the top, center, or bottom of the page. The Anchored Position Reference Point specifies if the object aligns to the top, center, or bottom of this page item. If you choose a line option, such as Line (Baseline), the Anchored Position Reference Point displays only the middle horizontal row of points.

Y Relative To option
The Y Relative To option

A. Aligning the top of the object to the top page edge B. Aligning the bottom of the object to the bottom the page edge 

Y Offset

Moves the object up or down. Positive values move the object downward.

Keep Within Top/Bottom Column Boundaries

Keeps the object inside the text column if reflowing text would otherwise cause it to move outside of the boundaries. In such instances, the bottom of the object will align to the bottom inset, or the top of the object will align to the top inset. For example, an anchored object off to the side of a line of text and in the middle of a column looks fine; however, without this option selected, if the anchored marker flows to the bottom of the column, the object may drop below the column edge or partially off the page. When this option is selected, you can’t drag the object above or below the column boundaries. If you resize the object, it will move back into alignment with the top or bottom boundaries of the column, if necessary. This option is only available when you select a line option, such as Line (Baseline) for Y Relative To.

Note:

When InDesign overrides the object’s position to fall within the bounds of the column, the Y offset value you specify appears in the dialog box with a plus sign (+).

Prevent Manual Positioning

Ensures that you can’t move the anchored object by dragging or nudging it on the page.

Preview

Displays the position adjustments on the page as you make them.

Position a custom-positioned anchored object

Note the following when using the Anchored Object Options dialog box to position custom-positioned anchored objects.

  • The custom position options include four main options: The two Reference Point proxies and the X and Y Relative To menus. These options all work together to specify the object’s location. For instance, what you choose for X Relative To and Y Relative To determines what the Anchored Position Reference Point represents—it could be a text frame, a text line within a column, or an entire page. The following image represents how you can change the location of the object by choosing a different reference point while leaving the X and Y Relative To options unchanged.

Changing the location of the anchored object
Changing the location of the anchored object (X Relative To set to Text Frame; Y Relative To set to Line (Baseline))

A. Choosing the lower right point on the Anchored Object proxy and left center point on Anchored Position proxy. B. Changing Anchored Object proxy point to upper left corner and leaving the Anchored Position proxy point at center left C. Leaving the Anchored Object proxy at top left and changing Anchored Position proxy point to center right

  • To create an anchored object that maintains its position on the page (such as the top left corner) as text reflows and moves only when the text reflows to another page, anchor the object to the page margins or page edges. For example, set both X Relative To and Y Relative To to Page Margin, click the top left reference point for the object  and the top left reference point for the page item . As the text reflows, the object remains in the top left corner, within the page margins. Only when the text line containing the anchor flows to another page does the object move—to the top left corner of the next page.

Positioning anchored object to a specific location on the page
Positioning anchored object to a specific location on the page

A. Position object using use Page Margin or Page Edge for X and Y Relative To B. When text reflows, object does not follow text until text moves to another page

  • To keep the object aligned with a specific line of text so that the object stays with that text when it reflows, choose a Line option from the Y Relative To menu.

  • To keep the object within the text frame, but not with a specific line of text when text reflows, choose Text Frame from the X Relative To menu.

  • To align the object relative to the margin (for example, to create a sidebar that stays in the outside margin as the text reflows from page to page), select Relative To Spine.

  1. Select the object and choose Object > Anchored Object > Options.
  2. From the Position menu, choose Custom.

    Note:

    To see the object move on the page as you specify options, select Preview at the bottom of the dialog box.

  3. To keep the object on the same side of the page, relative to the document spine, select Relative To Spine. For example, select this if you want the object to always appear in the outside margin, no matter what side of the spread it is on.
  4. Click the point on the Anchored Object Reference Point proxy  that represents the point on the object that you want to align to the page.
  5. From the X Relative To menu, choose the page item that you want to use as the horizontal basis for alignment of the object. For example, choose Text Frame to align the object to left, right, or center of the text frame.
  6. From the Y Relative To menu, choose the page item that you want to use as the vertical basis for alignment of the object. For example, if you want the object to align to the baseline of the text to which it’s anchored, choose Line (Baseline).
  7. Click the point on the Anchored Position Reference Point proxy  that represents where within the page items chosen from the X and Y Relative To menus that you want to align the object.
  8. Specify an X Offset or Y Offset to nudge or move the object away from the alignment point.
  9. To ensure that the object does not extend below or above a column edge as text reflows, select Keep within Top/Bottom Column Boundaries. This option is only available when you select a line option, such as Line (Baseline), from the Y Relative To menu.
  10. Click OK.

Work with anchored objects using drag-and-drop (CS5.5)

You can drag an existing object into a text frame to anchor it or move it. Use the Selection tool  or Direct Selection tool  to select the object, and then drag the blue square near the upper-right corner of the text frame. Do one of the following:

  • To anchor an existing object, drag the blue square to the position where you want the object’s anchor to appear.

  • To create an inline object, press Shift and drag the blue square to the position where you want the object to appear.

  • To specify anchored object options, press Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) and drag the blue square to the position where you want the object’s anchor to appear.

Adobe recommends

Adobe recommends
<a href="http://goo.gl/9ag2w">Drag and Drop anchored objects</a>
Brian Wood

Select and copy anchored objects

Using the Selection tool, you can select only one anchored object at a time. Using the Type tool, you can select a range of text with multiple anchored object markers. When you select multiple anchor markers with the Type tool, you can change the position options for all the anchored objects at once.

Note:

If you have more than one anchored object in the same position—for example, if one line of type holds the markers for two anchored objects with the same anchoring attributes—the objects will overlap each other.

When you copy text containing an anchored object marker, you copy the anchored object as well. If you copy an anchored object and paste it outside of text, the anchored object becomes an independent image that is not linked to text.

View anchored object markers on the page

To view anchors and their relationship to the text on the page, you can display object markers. Use any of the following methods:

  • To view the anchor markers  in the text, choose Type > Show Hidden Characters.
  • To view a dashed line from an anchor marker to its associated custom-positioned object, select the object and choose View > Extras > Show Text Threads. The thread extends from the anchor marker to the current proxy point for the anchored object.
  • To view anchor symbols  on anchored objects, choose View > Extras > Show Frame Edges. Viewing anchor symbols is helpful when determining which objects are anchored.

Reposition an anchored object on the page manually

Moving a frame moves its anchored objects, unless the object is positioned relative to margins or pages.

Note:

Before moving an anchored object, make sure that you deselect the Prevent Manual Positioning option for the object in the Anchored Objects dialog box or choose Object > Unlock Position.

  • Do one of the following:
    • To move inline anchored objects, use the Selection tool  or Direct Selection tool  to select the object, and then drag vertically. You can move inline objects vertically only, not horizontally.

    Note:

    If you want to move an inline or above line object outside of the text frame, convert it to a custom-positioned object and then move it as desired.

    • To move inline anchored objects, use the Selection tool or Direct Selection tool to select the object, and then drag vertically in horizontal frame or horizontally in a vertical frame. In horizontal text, you can move inline objects vertically only, not horizontally. In vertical text, you can move inline objects horizontally only.
    • To move an inline anchored object parallel to the baseline, place the insertion point before or after the object and specify a new value for kerning.

    Note:

    If you want to move an inline or above line object outside of the text frame, convert it to a custom-positioned object and then move it as desired.

    To move custom-positioned anchored objects, use the Selection tool or Direct Selection tool to select the object, and then drag vertically or horizontally.

Note:

You can also rotate and transform an anchored object. (See Transform objects and Rotate objects.)

Resize an anchored object

Before resizing an anchored object, make sure that you deselect the Prevent Manual Positioning option in the Anchored Objects Options dialog box.

  • Use the Selection tool  or Direct Selection tool  to select the object, and then drag the side or corner handle.

    Note:

    Vertically resizing inline or above line anchor markers might result in the object becoming overset. If the anchor marker is overset, the object will be overset as well.

Resizing an anchored object might also reposition the object. For example, if you’ve aligned the right side of an object to the left side of the text frame, and then you drag the object’s right side handle 1 pica to the left (away from the text frame boundary), the object will resize and then move back 1 pica to the right.

Release an anchored object

If you no longer want an object to move relative to its associated text, you can release it to remove its anchor.

  • Select the anchored object with a selection tool, and choose Object > Anchored Object > Release.

    The object’s position on the page doesn’t move.

    Note:

    Release doesn’t work for inline or above line objects. If you can’t use Release, select the anchored object and then cut and paste it. You can also use the Type tool to select and cut the anchored object.

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